My calling is not so much to “teach at a seminary” as it is to help the church better read and apply the teaching of Scriptures to every day life. So I’m glad whenever I get the chance to teach or preach in the local church. Even better are opportunities to help pastors hone their Scripture reading and preaching skills. I recently had the opportunity to lead a preaching seminary for about 15 Slovak pastors or teachers.
Every year for about ten years now, our denomination in Slovakia (Cirkev Bratská) holds a “preaching seminar” for about 20 pastors or teachers. The seminar is held in early November and is an intense two days of working through a book of the Bible to get from text to sermon outline.
The Book of Acts
This year the group focused on the book of Acts. I’m an OT scholar but the book of Acts was one of the first books of the Bible that I began to study intensely and I still try to improve my understanding of the book. After all, of all the ‘historical’ books in the Bible, Acts is the one that describes the age of the church, and so it is most directly relevant to our situation in history.
The seminar began on Thursday evening when I gave a quick run through of the story of the book of Acts and some major biblical-theological themes that the book picks up and develops (temple, kingdom and seed). During the next day and a half the pastors and teachers worked in groups and worked on specific texts from the Book of Acts (the selection of Mathias, Stephen’s speech, and Paul’s shipwreck and arrival in Rome). The goal was to understand what’s going on in the passage, how it relates to the book overall and then to put together the main idea of a sermon with a homiletical outline for preaching.
It was a great weekend. I’m not a seasoned preacher or even very good at sermon prep, so I took the liberty of focusing in more on understanding the specific texts and seeing how they relate to big movements in the Book of Acts and the Bible overall.
I enjoy teaching at the seminary and working with kids who are just setting out to discover their calling but every once in a while it’s nice to work with pastors and teachers who have accumulated ministry experience. They have more appreciation for the importance of God’s word in the life of the church. They’re also able to see interesting connections between texts and find theological applications in life.